How it happened: The Hoosiers raced out to a 36-20 lead on the No. 4 Hawkeyes, but this one wasn’t without its fair share of drama. Iowa, as it has done on multiple occasions this season, raced back from a large deficit and led by as many as four with 9:35 to play. But down the stretch, Indiana made the plays it needed to emerge victorious. The Hoosiers scored a ridiculous 1.32 points per possession on the evening and had a turnover percentage of just 17, which were two keys in the victory. They also overcame a tough shooting night from Yogi Ferrell (2-of-12) on the strength of a strong showing on the offensive glass. IU rebounded 54 percent of its missed shots and scored 26 second chance points. In a contest that was close down the stretch, that was arguably the difference. Indiana now has a signature win on its resume as a road test in East Lansing on Sunday awaits.
After a disappointing 68-63 loss at Penn State, Indiana returns home on Thursday night for a meeting with Big Ten leader Iowa. The Hawkeyes, ranked No. 4 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll, are 19-4 and 10-1 in the Big Ten.
The game will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN with Rece Davis, Dick Vitale and Kaylee Hartung on the call:
Thursday’s meeting in Bloomington between Indiana and Iowa was supposed to be for first place in the Big Ten. But after Indiana’s disappointing performance at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday, the Hoosiers can only play for a tie with Fran McCaffery and the Hawkeyes.
Iowa is the surprise story in not only the conference this season, but also nationally. Picked by most to finish no better than sixth or seventh in the league, the experienced Hawkeyes have one of the nation’s most well rounded teams.
And McCaffery, who has never lost fewer than 12 games in a season as Iowa’s coach, is right there at the front of the discussion for both Big Ten and national coach of the year. We’ve written since late December about the Big Ten schedule being backloaded with words of curiosity as to how Indiana will respond to the highest level of competition. Based on resume and results to-date, it’s not going to get much tougher than the challenges Iowa will present in primetime on Thursday under the bright lights of Assembly Hall.
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@connor_galyen writes: What’s IU’s identity? Are we the team that beat Michigan or the one that struggled against Minnesota and Penn State?
Is somewhere in the middle an option? I’m of the opinion that you should probably throw out these outlier type of performances when evaluating a team. Indiana probably isn’t as good as it played at Michigan and it certainly isn’t as bad as it played on Saturday on Penn State. The Minnesota game probably doesn’t even belong in the conversation because IU won that one and the Gophers have played some other Big Ten opponents close.
The problem, of course, is that a team that doesn’t perform consistently is going to have a tough time stringing together a long NCAA tournament run. Success for the Hoosiers is highly dependent on good shooting and taking care of the ball. Can the Hoosiers perform at a high level in both facets over the series of several games? It remains to be seen.
The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back following the sixth week of conference play and there are more shakeups in the league’s pecking order. Here’s a look at where each team stands after the sixth week of Big Ten play (Note: Points per possession numbers in parenthesis are for conference games only):
14. Rutgers (6-18, 0-11, .91 points per possession, 1.24 points per possession allowed) … Rutgers went to triple overtime against Illinois which is almost a win!
13. Minnesota (6-17, 0-11, .94 points per possession, 1.1 points per possession allowed) … The Golden Gophers followed a string of close losses by getting their doors blown off at Northwestern. There simply aren’t many positives for this team right now, other than the fact they don’t have the label of the worst team in the conference thanks to Rutgers.
How it happened: There’s no way to sugarcoat it: this was an evening to forget for Indiana. The Hoosiers scored just .96 points per possession and shot an effective field goal percentage of 45.6. The points per possession output was IU’s second worst so far in conference play. Indiana never really got momentum in State College as Penn State jumped out in front early thanks to 11 first half turnovers. Brandon Taylor was a major problem for the Hoosiers as he finished with a game-high 24 points and six rebounds. Indiana really had no answer for Taylor and also struggled to slow down Devin Foster, who finished with a career-high 13 points. This was a deflating loss, particularly for Indiana’s position in the race for the Big Ten title. A win would have set up a showdown for first place with Iowa next Thursday in Assembly Hall. But the Hoosiers didn’t take care of business and now face a brutal seven-game stretch to finish the regular season.
Indiana is back on the road this weekend for a Saturday night primetime matchup with Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions are 11-12 overall and 2-8 in the Big Ten.
The game will be broadcast on BTN at 8 p.m. ET with Josh Lewin and Shon Morris on the call:
Tuesday’s win at Michigan was significant for Indiana for many reasons. First, it kept the Hoosiers on pace with Iowa at the top of the Big Ten standings. Both teams are 9-1 with a potential showdown looming next week at Assembly Hall for first place in the conference.
It was also a top 50 RPI road win, which provided a major boost to IU’s NCAA tournament resume. But perhaps most importantly, it was a win that should give Indiana even more confidence. The Hoosiers had three conference road wins going into Tuesday, but winning at Rutgers, Nebraska and Minnesota isn’t the same as winning at Michigan. Indiana went on the road against a solid opponent and won going away.
But now is not the time for Indiana to believe the hype or the press clippings. Since the 5-3 start, the Hoosiers have played like a group with something to prove and that trend must continue on Saturday in State College. Penn State, which has lost six of its last seven games, will be hungry for a win and Indiana must avoid looking ahead to the Iowa game on Thursday in Assembly Hall.